French Public Sector Protest Macron’s Plans for Change

protests in france
At national level there was a mobilization of some 300 to 500 thousand demonstrators. (Photo taken from https://www.theguardian.com).

The main axis of protest were the railroad reform and the transformations planned in the public sector

Hundreds of thousands of French took to the streets to say No to the plans of Emmanuel Macron’s government in a day where agitation and demands flooded the national territory.

The main axis of protest were the railroad reform and the transformations planned in the public sector, also including pensioners opposed to the hike in taxes and students who demanded the repeal of new laws to enter universities.

In summary, changes promoted by the Executive -that almost every week announces a Project- are far from satisfying citizens and some have been deemed as ‘unpopular’.

At national level there was a mobilization of some 300 to 500 thousand demonstrators, according to different counts, while in Paris were reported figures between 47 and 65 thousand with two marches ending in the emblematic square of La Bastille.

The workers of the National Railroad Society protested the railroad reform promoted by the authorities, considered the beginning of the destruction of that sector model of public service in France.

For their part, public servants went out to repeal plans to eliminate 120 thousand workplaces and a cut of 60 billion euros from the Budget allotted to that division.

The strike generated disturbances in diverse sectors such as air transport, railroads, schools, universities and several institutions of the public administration.

Several politicians joined the demonstrations such as the leader of the movement France Insumise, Jean-Luc Melenchon, who advocated for a united front against government plans.

The secretary general of the Communist Party, Pierre Laurent; the new leader of the Socialist Party, Olivier Faure and numerous leaders of the main trade unions of the country were also in the demonstrations.

This Thursday’s mobilization is considered the prelude of what will happen from April to June: the SNCF summoned a two-day strike of every five during those three months, meaning 36 days of paralization of train services.

‘The trade union said the government is not willing to negotiate and thus takes the responsibility of an intensive and long-duration conflicto’, declared recently Laurent Brun, of the CGT, after meeting with his colleagues of Unsa, CFDT and SUD-rail, among the main organizations.

If that movement is confirmed, many fear the spring will become a national chaos, in a country where approximately four and a half million people take trains every day to go to work.

In general, the mobilization could have an important economic cost for the coffers of the SNCF, in fact, the company already suspended the sale of tickets for April days included in the strike calendar.

Anyway, analysts coincide in what is most important will be the political cost for the still young government of Emmanuel Macron, whose main figures reaffirmed the decision to go forward with the reforms, at any price.

 

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